Movers and Shakers

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Susan Boudinot is remembered as one of the youngest protesters in colonial America. When she was 9, she and her family were visiting the royal governor of New Jersey. She was offered a cup of tea, accepted it, curtsied, and tossed it out the window. She was boycotting British tea, which had been hurting the economy of colonial American merchants.

Sybil Ludington was 16 years old when she joined American Revolutionary War forces, riding 40 miles on horseback in the dark of night to obtain military reinforcements.

It was because of 11-year-old Grace Bedell that Abraham Lincoln became the first U.S. president to wear a beard. When Lincoln was running for president, she sent him a letter saying, “You would look a great deal better, for your face is so thin... [people] like whiskers and they for you and then you would be president.” Lincoln was elected and, as photos show, he wore a beard. When the train taking Lincoln to Washington stopped in Grace's hometown of Westfield, New York, he met Grace and said, “You see, I let the whiskers grow for you, Grace.”

The often quoted line, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” comes from the response to a letter written by 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon. In 1897 she wrote a letter to the editors of the New York Sun newspaper asking if Santa Claus existed. The answer, written by the editor, appeared in the September 21, 1897, edition of the paper. It read: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as surely as love....How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”

Samantha Smith was 10 years old when she wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, asking him why his country seemed so belligerent to the rest of the world. Andropov responded and invited her to visit the Soviet Union. In 1983, Samantha spent two weeks touring the Soviet Union. She became an instant celebrity. Two years after her visit, Samantha and her father were killed in a plane crash. She was 13.

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